Thursday 3 March 2011

Autocar 1928-2011: Austin 7 'Gordon England' Sunshine Saloon

One of the few periodicals I read on a regular basis is the Autocar magazine.  It satisfies my interest in all things related to modern motoring (despite my not actually having a driving licence or owning a car!) and I've been a subscriber since long before I would legally have been allowed to drive(!).  When I was last employed it was very useful for my work too (in fact, my last two jobs were found through its pages) and I hope it will be again some time soon.

Anyway, this week's copy sees the Autocar reach a very remarkable milestone.  Already laying claim to the record of the oldest motoring magazine in the world, having first been published on the 2nd of November 1895 "in the interests of the mechanically-propelled road carriage", on the 13th of April 1928 it undertook the first ever "road test" - a detailed study of a particular motor car encompassing equipment, performance and driving characteristics which has become the universal standard since then.

The very first car to undergo this examination was the Austin Seven and since then a staggering 5,000 cars have been subjected to the same test (with some improvements over the years, of course).  To celebrate this achievement the latest issue has reprinted 50 of the best road tests of the last 83 years - including, of course, the original 1928 #1 - and sportingly "re-tested" an Austin Seven to see how it might fare today.  It makes for interesting and, I'm pleased to say, not entirely ignominious viewing.  Well done to the little Austin for putting in an impressive performance and congratulations to Autocar - here's to the next 80 years/ 5,000 road tests!


  1. This magazine has certainly stood the test of time- but then again cars are constantly changing! I think I may have a couple of those mags from the late 40’s- Saying ‘ I may’ sounds terrible doesn’t it, but I really am unsure- I think they may have disappeared into the direction of my dads man cupboard- funny that! T x

  2. Gosh, I wrote a seminar on the Austin 7 (ruby) when I was at university, brings back some memories. Would very much like to drive a vintage car to see what it is like. My Dad used to have a 1953 Sunbeam Talbot which weighed about as much as a tank, but i couldn't drive back then.

  3. My husband's aunt and uncle have a couple of vintage cars, and one of those is an Austin - I'm pretty sure it's a Seven. I shall have to send them the link to the video review.


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